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To anyone meeting Robert Cross, owner and operator of 3Cs Catering, it is clear he loves what he does. When asked how he came into the catering business he laughs and shares … “I always liked to eat, and I liked to eat a lot… I figured out at an early age, – in 5th grade to be exact – if I learned to cook I would never be hungry and I could eat what I liked!”
His path into business, 3C’s Catering in Kennedy, was pretty straight forward and the business is now celebrating 20 years in operation.
Robert graduated in 1996 from Alfred State, the State University of New York College of Technology in nearby Allegany County, with a culinary arts degree and one in baking. He returned to the farm in Kennedy to find his parents were ready to retire, the neighbors were selling their catering business – his dad was sure the old barn would be a great commercial kitchen and the neighbors has equipment available – why not start a business?
His wife Karen entered the picture and Robert laughingly refers to the summer of 1996 as the ‘perfect storm of projects; plus a wedding.’
Robert was an early advocate of farm to table – focusing on good food presented well with an emphasis on fresh, local and homemade. Cakes, breads, rolls are made from scratch and Robert is quick to share the baking credit with his wife – she is self taught and adds beautiful decorations to the variety of cakes she creates. The awards and blue ribbons for their carrot cake are displayed throughout the office. A three acre garden supplies them with seasonal vegetables and Robert has earned a specific license – allowing him to preserve the produce and make a variety of condiments and relishes for winter.
3C’s catering employees three full time people and has 17 part time employees – “they are like my family,” Robert said. “We work together very well, so I am confident everything that leaves our kitchen is the best!”
3C’s Catering supplies baked goods for the casino in Salamanca, they bake dinner rolls for the BelleView East in Falconer and they provide the pies for Abers Acres, Peterson Farms and McChesney Farm Market. In addition Robert has served the concession stands at Midway, provided food at Russell E. Diethrick Park in Jamestown and catered the dinners on the Summer Wind. Robert continued through the list of clients they have, the dinners and events they have catered – he seems amazed as the list continues to grow.
He related stories about the pies, cupcakes, cinnamon rolls and turkeys they have made and expresses true appreciation for the advancements which TV shows and Pinterest have brought into our rural county.
In addition to the full service catering business, Robert also owns and operates The Falcon’s Nest – a banquet hall offering full service facilities that will accommodate up to 250 people. This location, just outside Falconer, offers a gazebo for outside ceremonies, a sit down dining hall and meeting rooms. This venue is full service – providing the chairs, tables, linens, table settings, decorations and food for any occasion.
Robert’s newest venture into food service is the partnership in La Familia Restaurant at Chautauqua Institution. Robert’s longtime friend, Burke Lindquist, has returned to the area and is incorporating the fresh, local and homemade tradition into this restaurant – while featuring 3Cs desserts on their menu! Robert and Burke both focus on the fresh homemade menus and food preparation, while Burke is the chef at La Familia.
There are plans for eventual self sustainability and development of the 100+ acres surrounding the house and business but for now Robert, his wife Karen and their four children are content to celebrate 20 years in business.
“Knowing I have given our customers great food, been part of making an occasion memorable and sometimes using family recipes they have shared, make me very happy and proud,” he added.
3Cs Catering is located at 170 Miller Valley Rd. in Kennedy and can be reached at 267-4403 or visit their website, http://3cscatering.com/ or find them on Facebook.
To read more of Katie Smith’s creative and informative contributions to the Jamestown Gazette, please go to www.jamestowngazette.com.